CATO OP-EDS

John Samples Everyone involved in politics has bad days, when one’s interests conflict with one’s ideals. Some conservatives had a bad day on Tuesday when Google CEO Sundar Pachai appeared before Congress to respond to allegations of anti-conservative bias at Google. Since at least the presidency of Ronald Reagan, conservatives have stood for limited, constitutional government. That commitment has not always been easy. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia voted to protect flag burning as free speech even though he hated the desecration of the flag. If conservatives don’t stand strong — even in tough cases — for limited government, who will? Content moderation at big tech companies certainly looks like a tough case. On the one hand, conservatives have long supported a free market where entrepreneurs and CEOs, not politicians, decide how to run businesses. If conservatives don’t stand strong - even in tough cases - for limited government, who will? On the other hand, Mark Zuckerberg, noted earlier this year that the people who work in Silicon Valley generally lean to the left. So do university employees, and conservatives are well aware of the problems posed by the left’s dominance on campuses. So conservatives are tempted to use the tools of big government to make sure Google and Facebook don’t restrict speech that their employees do not like. We saw some conservatives giving in [...]
Wed, Dec 12, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Chelsea Follett We owe many popular Christmas traditions to Victorian England, from carols and decorated trees to gift-giving. These cheerful traditions stand in stark contrast with our recognition of the nightmarish working conditions at the time. In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, for example, the miserly businessman Ebenezer Scrooge exemplifies the alleged spirit of the Victorian age: heartlessness, he maintains, is good for business. Underneath the veneer of destitution and exploitation of the era, however, things were changing for the better. The unlikely and seldom acknowledged benefactor of the poor in 19th century Britain was the factory. When asked to picture a scene of horrifying working conditions during the Victorian era, most people conjure up the image of a 19th century factory. Yet the life of a housemaid was, at that time, far bleaker than that of most “factory girls.” That is one of many surprising insights that can be found in Judith Flanders’ fascinating book, Inside the Victorian Home: factories helped improve working conditions, especially for women. Why, for young women especially, factory work was preferable to domestic labor in Dickensian times. In 1851, one in three women between the ages of 15 and 24 in London worked as a domestic servant. Their work was often excruciating, and it is no wonder that many of them rushed at the opportunity to join factories and leave domestic [...]
Wed, Dec 12, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Michael D. Tanner Recently, The Daily Beast reported that when President Trump was briefed early last year about the future consequences of the federal debt, he replied bluntly, “Yeah, but I won’t be here.” It would be easy to shake our heads at yet another example of the president’s inability to think beyond the present. But Trump is hardly alone in his disregard for our looming debt crisis; with characteristic pithiness, his dismissive response expressed the basic attitude of most Washington lawmakers. Lawmakers and President Trump must look beyond their own immediate political prospects to imagine the country they’ll leave behind. Yet, if we don’t stem the rising tide of red ink it will pose an intolerable burden for our kids and grandkids. But to be fair to lawmakers, they’re not wrong: The bill for our profligacy won’t come due until well after the next election. Our children and grandchildren don’t vote. And anything done today to fix the problem — raising taxes, cutting spending, reforming entitlements, etc. — will anger one group or another of Americans who do vote. Because most lawmakers indulge such a short-sighted, self-interested stance, however, the federal deficit will exceed $779 billion this year and top $1 trillion in the next. The national debt now exceeds $21 trillion. And it will get worse. The federal debt will double as a [...]
Wed, Dec 12, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Tanja Porčnik and Visio Institut With the rise of nationalism, populism, and hybrid forms of authoritarianism, freedom has been for years under assault in many parts of the world. Unsurprisingly, among the countries with the most substantial deteriorations in freedom in recent years are Turkey and Poland, both experiencing evident weakening of the rule of law, contracting religious freedom, and attacks on freedom of expression. Today we are releasing the fourth annual Human Freedom Index, the most comprehensive measure of freedom ever created for a large number of countries around the globe. The report documents global freedom on a continuing decline since 2008, the earliest year for which a robust enough index could be produced. Freedom has indeed taken root in various societies, and it is also spreading in numerous countries around the globe. On a country level, we have seen the most significant deteriorations during this time in Greece, Brazil, Venezuela, Egypt, and Syria. Also, notably, Russia’s rating fell from 6.53 in 2008 to 6.27 in 2016; Hungary’s rating fell from 8.05 to 7.74; Argentina’s score dropped from 7.04 to 6.47; and Turkey’s rating decreased from 6.92 to 6.47 (between 2011 and 2016, Turkey’s rating decreased even more markedly, falling from 7.22 to 6.47). On a positive side, countries that saw improvement in their level of human freedom most since 2008 are Côted’Ivoire, Angola, Zimbabwe, Taiwan, [...]
Wed, Dec 12, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Emma Ashford and A. Trevor Thrall “The time is long overdue for a vigorous discussion about our foreign policy, and how it needs to change in this new era.” -Sen. Bernie Sanders “The United States needs a national security doctrine around which a consensus can be built — both between the Democratic and the Republican Parties and with those who share our interests and values overseas.” — Gov. John Kasich When the new members of the 116th Congress arrive in Washington next month, they’re likely to find themselves focusing on a relatively unusual priority: foreign policy. And though Democrats promised during the midterms to challenge President Donald Trump’s foreign policy, it’s not just about opposition to the president. With a flurry of think pieces proposing roadmaps for new progressive, liberal, or conservative foreign policies, everyone’s talking about the future of U.S. foreign policy. The most important of these debates are the ones inside the two political parties, as Republicans and Democrats attempt to build foreign policy platforms with an eye toward the 2020 election. Curious to understand where the right and left are heading on foreign policy, we’ve held a variety of events at the Cato Institute to try and understand this question: a roundtable building on Patrick Porter’swork on the “liberal international order,” events with notable critics of the existing foreign policy consensus, [...]
Wed, Dec 12, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Matt Daniels and Doug Bandow As media and political leaders increasingly embrace dehumanizing stereotypes of ideological opponents, America risks drifting down a dark path. Apologists for Antifa label as “fascist” those with opposing ideologies and politics, while others deride half of the American electorate as “Demoncrats.” Some may secretly cheer such insults. Doing so, however, starts our country down a well-trodden intellectual and emotional path embracing violence as an alternative to democratic values and fundamental rights. One does not need to look into the past to find examples of what happens to divided societies. In the news recently are two nations that have institutionalized dehumanization and violence as social norms: China and Saudi Arabia. The People’s Republic of China is officially secular, while Saudi Arabia is known as the Holy Kingdom, hosting Islam’s two holiest sites. Different in matters of theology, the regimes are similar in their disregard for human life, liberty, and dignity. Saudi Arabia dehumanizes women and dissidents; China punishes critics and subjugates its Uighur minority on a massive scale. The language of dehumanization is beginning to creep into our collective consciousness — at both extremes of the political spectrum. This shoul In its northwestern province of Xinjiang, the Chinese government has created concentration camps for its Uighur minority. These “re-education camps” are estimated to hold more than 1 million people. There have been numerous accounts [...]
Wed, Dec 12, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Doug Bandow Amid controversy over a maybe yes/maybe no ceasefire in Donald Trump’s trade war with China, the United States engineered the arrest by Canada of a top Chinese executive for allegedly busting U.S. sanctions on Iran. The detention sparked outrage in Beijing, which threatened Canada with “grave consequences” if Meng Wanzhou is not released. Huawei Technologies Co. is one of China’s international behemoths, a telecom firm that now sells more smartphones than Apple. The arrest of Meng, the founder’s daughter and Huawei’s chief financial officer, was not for committing a genuine crime against Americans, but rather for allegedly lying over Huawei’s connection to another firm that did business in Iran. The Trump administration is determined to dragoon other nations into its anti-Tehran crusade. Washington’s use of its economic clout to coerce the rest of the world reflects extraordinary hubris. Americans would be outraged if another nation did the same to us. By busting Meng Wanzhou, Trump is signaling that he expects to dictate to every nation, no matter how powerful. In recent years, the United States has imposed sanctions on numerous nations, including Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, Russia, Venezuela, and Yugoslavia. Increasingly Washington insists that the rest of the world follow America’s lead or else. It seemed radical when the 1996 Helms-Burton Act targeted foreign firms trading with Cuba. Since then, secondary sanctions have become [...]
Tue, Dec 11, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Ryan Bourne Unlike many commentators, I believe that a no-deal Brexit still very possible. It is the default as the clock ticks, and parliament must vote for government-backed legislation to change path. For all the threats about a second referendum, the Conservatives would implode if they rowed back on delivering Brexit. And as regrettable as a no-deal scenario might be, it seems the only way of achieving a meaningful Brexit. Yes, adjustment will be disruptive. It requires an active government to prepare. But markets respond quickly in the face of necessity. But Brexiteers who consider this option the best path forward should admit that it would come with short-term dislocation, and prepare the country for it. The effect here would not be “uncertainty”. No-deal provides clarity relative to the chaos of Theresa May’s proposed withdrawal agreement or a second referendum. Rather, the impact would be practical disruptions as we shift towards a new trading environment. The visible effect widely discussed is at ports. Critics argue that delays caused by physical customs, administration, and regulatory checks will slow down the rate of vehicle pass-through. This could cause ferry and ship delays, in effect reducing capacity, mainly between Dover and Calais. Some at HMRC envisage far less disruption than Downing Street’s apocalyptic tales, and Tim Morris, chief executive at the UK Major Ports Group, has rubbished the idea that [...]
Tue, Dec 11, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Ryan Bourne To the extent bipartisan policy reform is possible, ideas must appeal to the instincts of both conservatives and liberal progressives. In that tradition, Sen. Cory Booker’s proposal for ‘baby bonds’ may be a stroke of political genius. Founding special accounts for newborn children with a taxpayer-funded deposit, and means-tested government additions through childhood, has obvious appeal to liberals. It redistributes money and reduces measured wealth inequality. But Booker is no doubt hoping it can pique conservative interest too. The so-called American Opportunity Accounts, on the face of it, introduce children to the concept of saving and support families, while providing young people with a nest egg to become more self-sufficient in achieving major life goals. Booker’s idea is this: When an eligible child is born, an account would be opened with a $1,000 deposit from the taxpayer. Each year until the child turns 18, the government would deposit a means-tested sum rising to a maximum $2,000 contribution. The funds in these accounts would generate returns free of tax but could not be withdrawn until the child turns 18. After that point, the money could be accessed but only be used for specified investments, such as down payments on a house, college tuition, professional training, or retirement savings. The eventual sums could be significant, with a maximum of nearly $50,000 for someone in receipt [...]
Mon, Dec 10, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Ilya Shapiro With Democrats seizing the House and Republicans keeping the Senate, bills beyond the proverbial post-office-naming will be hard-pressed to make it out of both chambers in the next Congress. The threat President Trump faces from Democrats, then, isn’t legislative obstruction, but the ready-aim-fire of the opposition’s “subpoena cannon.” That’s the term one senior Democratic source used last month in describing to Axios the opposition’s main anti-Trump weapon. Not all of the investigatory weapon’s payload will be fired at once, but the appetite for “resistance” is strong and will tie up significant White House and agency resources. (Full disclosure: My wife is a lawyer in the House general counsel’s office, but hasn’t participated in any discussions regarding the Democrats’ plans.) In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with spending time on congressional oversight. Indeed it’s a salutary check, flowing from the “legislative powers” that Article I grants Congress. The Framers assumed Congress would follow the lead of the British House of Commons in questioning executive action. James Wilson, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and future Supreme Court justice, had written that members of parliament were considered “grand inquisitors of the realm. The proudest ministers of the proudest monarchs have trembled at their censures.” Accordingly, George Mason argued at the Convention that members of Congress “must meet frequently to inspect the Conduct of the public [...]
Mon, Dec 10, 2018
Source: OP-EDS

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